Hard to Swallow?: 'Jaws' Turns 40 Today!

Hard to Swallow?: 'Jaws' Turns 40 Today!
Universal/Moviepix/Getty Images
Steven Spielberg's cinema classic "Jaws," which Time magazine says changed the history of the movie business, was released exactly 40 years ago today.

Thanks to a relentless marketing campaign, unusual among movie blockbusters at the time, 'Jaws' became not only an instant hit and summer must-see, it also became the #1 movie of all time at the box office. (Today, its worldwide take of nearly half a billion dollars qualifies it as the #157 highest-grossing movie ever made.)

The movie that made everyone scared to go swimming (even, in some cases, in bodies of water where sharks can't possibly live) continues to captivate movie-goers, including Robert Jones, who crafted this brand-new, terrifying trailer:

Here's what ever became of some of the film's principals:

GettyImages-168580651Jaws makes a late-night snack of Susan Backlinie. [Cred: Universal/Moviepix/Getty Images]

(1) Susan Backlinie: The first of the great white shark's victims whose fate is seen by the audience was a curvaceous beach chick played by stuntwoman and professional swimmer Susan Backlinie. She later parodied her harrowing death scene in Spielberg's unsuccessful comedy "1941" (1979). Today, at 68, she is a frequent guest at horror and other autograph shows.

Backlinie flashes her teeth in 2013. [Cred: Splash News]

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(L to R): Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw: Gone fishin'! [Cred: Universal/Archive Photos/Getty Images]

(2) Roy Scheider:
The star of the film, this accomplished actor's big-screen career began in 1964 and peaked with his role as tenacious "Police Chief Martin Brody" in "Jaws." He was back for seconds in "Jaws 2" (1978), and worked steadily until his death at age 75 in 2008.

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Lorraine Gary with husband Sidney Sheinberg at a USC Shoah Foundation gala in 2014 [Cred: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images]

(3) Lorraine Gary: This theater actress and frequent funny-movie star drew raves for her performance as "Ellen Brody" in the "Jaws" series, but her starring role in the universally panned "Jaws: The Revenge" (1987) seems to have taken a bite out of her career—she hasn't acted in a movie since. Now 77, she's been married to the head of MCA for half a century.

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Dreyfuss is in safer waters with the light-hearted series "Your Family or Mine." [Cred: Sony]

(4) Richard Dreyfuss: The 67-year-old Dreyfuss has the most impressive résumé of all the "Jaws" actors. Already a rising star at the time of his portrayal of "Hooper" in the film, he followed his performance with an even better one in Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1978), and has worked in many major, sometimes critically acclaimed, movies, including "The Goodbye Girl" (1977), "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" (1981), "Stand By Me" (1986), "Stakeout" (1987), and "Mr. Holland's Opus" (1995). He's currently in the TV series "Your Family or Mine."
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The two faces of British actor Robert Shaw: (L) Young thespian and playwright, (R) Jaws-hunter "Quint" [Creds: (L) Popperfoto/Getty Images, (R) ullstein bild/Getty Images]

(5) Robert Shaw: Grizzled "Quint" from "Jaws," Shaw had broken through as a mainstream supporting actor in popular films like "The Sting" (1973) and "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974) when he begrudgingly accepted the part that would immortalize him. Sadly, he died of a heart attack at age 51 in Ireland just three years after the release of "Jaws."

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Murray Hamilton (L) as "Mayor Vaugh" was clearly the most nattily-dressed man on the beach! [Cred: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images]

(6) Murray Hamilton: Palpably smarmy as "Mayor Larry Vaughn" in "Jaws," Murray Hamilton was one of the busiest character actors of the '60s and '70s. In the '80s, he played the father of "Blanche Devereaux," the larger-than-life "Big Daddy Hollingsworth," on "The Golden Girls". Hamilton died at 63 in 1986.

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(7) Steven Spielberg: You've probably heard by now that the fledgling director of "Jaws" really went on to make a name for himself! 

[Cred: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]